The Agents found themselves called in to Spandau in the middle of the night to be told of a field agent’s disappearance. The RPA keeps various agents infiltrated in different departments to allow them to carry out reconnaissance and test field equipment. In Agent Bronn’s case, he was testing an experimental ST Tracker, a portable field radio that would allow an agent to detect the presence of reanimated soldiers known as STs. This one was designed to have a far greater range of detection and after radioing in from a rural town a few hours East of Berlin to mention that he had detected something, he wasn’t heard from again.
Albert Speer asked the Agents to go and see what happened to Bronn. They began to plan their mission, arming themselves, requisitioning one of the basic ST Trackers and finding out all they could about Agent Bronn and the area in which he went missing. Bronn was a member of the GDR police force and used his patrols in the countryside to carry out various RPA duties. His last known position was a small town in farm country near the border with Poland. After a bumpy ride through the still war-torn countryside, they made it to where he was last contacted and began to search up and down the country roads for signs of him or his car.
It took hours but eventually they spotted his government-issued car off the road near some overgrown brush. There was no sign of him but the passenger door had been violently removed from the car and his prototype tracker had been destroyed and even shot for good measure, rendering it completely useless. The Agents’ own tracker wasn’t giving any readings but still they went into the woods, tracking footprints left in the mud. Shortly after, they found a pool of blood and the footprints leading off in different directions. Sinclair noticed that only one of the set of footprints looked normal while the others had an odd syncopated quality to them he couldn’t quite place. Soldier Sally climbed up a tree and looked around for whatever landmarks of note their might have been and spied a farmhouse not too far off in the distance. The regular set of footprints seemed to lead in that general direction so the Agents piled into their car and carefully made their way there.
At the farm, they began to look around, Dr. Viegler skulking around, searching for any clues while the others, deferring to Captain Rokossowski went to the front door and began asking the occupants what they knew. First they spoke with a young woman named Ilse who promptly turned things over to her brother Johann who answered their questions hesitantly but refused them entry into the house. He did agree to give them a tour of the farm to prove that they had nothing to hide. Viegler had spied tire tracks, some fresh, but no sign of a car on the farm. When asked about it, Johann grew curt and defensive. Sally noticed that the farm seemed to be pretty well run and showed signs that more than just two people were managing things but Johann insisted it was just he and his sister. The Agents’ questions didn’t abet and with the tracker going off, indicating the presence of STs in the area, they weren’t about to buy Johann’s story.
Seeing that they weren’t going to leave, Johann frowned, made a point of taking off his hat and instantly the Agents found themselves under fire from someone on the upper level of the barn. Johann ran for the safety of his house but Sally tackled him to the ground. The sniper’s gun jammed and Rokossowski managed to make it up to where he was positioned while Sinclair got to the farmhouse, found Ilse with a gun aimed at his head but quickly disarmed her. Rokossowski found himself facing off against a scarred bear of a man who pulled a knife on him but after a quick scuffle, managed to incapacitate him and bring him back down to where both Johann and Ilse were being held prisoner. Quickly binding up the fierce-looking man, they began to get a different story from Johann.
Johann admitted that they were smugglers and that the Farmer, the man currently tied to a post and coming to, was responsible for the whole thing, having killed an SS officer, deserted the front for this farm. When questioned, the Farmer said nothing, just spat and kept his eyes on Rokossowski. The farmhouse now opened to them, Viegler and Sinclair went in with the tracker, determined to find where the STs were hiding. The farmhouse seemed relatively normal at first although where one would expect to find stairs to a cellar was all bricked up. After more hunting, they found a trapdoor locked from the inside and began trying to bash their way in. Sally and Rokossowski continued their interrogation but to little effect. Johann and Ilse grew noticeable more upset at the sounds coming from the farmhouse but the Farmer maintained his quiet, stoic gaze.
Sinclair finally smashed his way through and hopped down, gun drawn and ready to dispatch whatever unholy terrors awaited him. What he found instead were five pairs of eyes staring at him from wan, emaciated faces, young and old. Ordering them up and out of the cellar, Viegler found no signs of STs, just signs of human habitation. When the poor figures were brought outside with the other prisoners, Johann finally admitted all.
The farm was a way point for smuggling Jews, refugees, and now Soviet dissidents. The Farmer, whose name turned out to be Eric Zann had been helping people escape since the war. When questioned by Viegler, Eric finally spoke and said that they had best leave or they would die soon. Viegler pushed for more information and Eric said he would have answers if Eric was returned his knife. His knife was a ceremonial SS dagger and Rokossowski was not about to turn it back over to him. After Sinclair ran the tracker over it and the radio let out a high pitched whine, Rokossowski and the two North Americans were even less inclined to hand the dagger back over. Viegler insisted that they give it to him and find out what answers he had but after much debate, was overruled. Instead, he was given the knife and told to return to the house and see if it helped detect where the STs were.
As time passed, Eric seemed to be watching the Sun’s progress, almost as if he expected something to happen. When questioned, he allowed nothing. Viegler returned from the house, frustrated at not finding anything. The Agents decided to take Eric and the knife back to Spandau but to leave Johann, Ilse, and their smuggling operation alone. Sinclair tried to turn Eric’s threat against him, suggesting that whatever threatened the Agents would now only impact on his friends and the refugees but right before Eric might have responded, Viegler slipped the dagger back into his hands, eager to see just what its relation with the STs was.
Immediately the earth shook and bodies began to rise up. Dozens of STs tore themselves from the ground and Eric told the Agents to leave. Viegler and Rokossowski saw that there was no point in fighting but Sally and Sinclair were not about to back down. As they moved to confront Eric, the STs under his control quickly incapacitated the two North Americans but before they could be killed, Johann, remembering how the Agents had promised to leave their smuggling scheme alone, begged Eric to spare them. Convinced, the two unconscious agents were unceremoniously dropped by a pair of STs by their car. Viegler demanded answers and Eric told him that more knives could be found, one being at Castle Filkstein. Rokossowski and Eric exchanged glances, two soldiers aware of just what compromises are needed in war and the Agents departed back to Berlin and Spandau as the remaining STs began to prepare the farm and its inhabitants for a long journey.
Back in Spandau, the Agents recounted all they had seen although they were torn between sending men to stop Eric or leaving him and his wayward souls alone. Speer promised to try and keep an eye on things but when Castle Filkstein and the promise of reclaiming one of these Daggers was mentioned, he had a flash of recognition and went to his bookshelf before finding what he was looking for. With a chuckle he handed it over to the Agents where they could see that Castle Filkstein could only be found in a book of children’s stories.
Back in the countryside as a nighttime rain fell on the line of refugees, STs, and smugglers. Eric paused, looked down where his SS tattoo still itched despite the mass of scars covering it, and continued his march into the night.